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Could the Olympics bankrupt the world?

"As tales of 2010 glory dominate the media in balmy Vancouver, a very different Olympic-related story is unfolding on the other side of the Atlantic. The fragile recovery of the global banking system is now threatened by a potential default by dept-laden Greece that could cascade throughout the EU, and the world."

That's the sobering lead by respected Canadian journalist Mitchell Anderson in Today/Canada under the headline COULD OLYMPICS UNDO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY?.

Anderson's report is worth reading for its analysis of the Greek debacle, going back to how and why Greece spent a staggering $14 billion on its Summer Games, much of it borrowed. According to the Greek government, some of it was spent at the insistence of the IOC. Growing Euro fears around Greece's possible default are punctuated by protest bombings of bank offices in Greece -- with the attack on JP Morgan yesterday the most recent in a year-long series targeting Citibank, Eurobank and others.

We may be seeing the swan song of the Olympics as we've known them. Winter and Summer Games can no longer be viewed as that mythical pot of gold -- a plum for a nation's construction industry and a convenient shot in the arm for countries large and small. Indeed, the Games are starting to look more and more like the sports version of credit-card culture.

Perhaps the world would be smarter to limit itself to world championships in separate sports. These can often be held in existing facilities for far less money. Between Vancouver events, I've been remoting over to the World Equestrian Festival which has been going on in Aachen, Germany since February 9th. The stands were packed with spectators who chose to forego Vancouver. Aachen has an existing and established state-of-the-art equestrian center that hosts major events -- for probably way less hemmorhaging of money than is required for an Olympican horse fest.

Unfortunately, as the world continues in its meltdown, even some world championships are bedeviled by growing political hostilities. Like the FIFA Africa Cup, held in Angola this year, which was marred by the assassination of three team members from Togo. These are all challenges that must be met, if the world's peoples are to continue meeting here and there in the name of sport.